There is so much the world can learn from how Malalai’s father raised his daughter. Ziauddin Yousafzai, created an environment for his daughter to think independently and to stand up for what she believed in. At age 15 after being shot in the head, the trauma and adversity she experienced cannot be described in words. She navigated adversity by relying on her wisdom and the learning her father provided through her upbringing.
“When I see her more free in her thinking and more free in her independence I feel happy. A parent’s dream should be the independence of the children. Love is to let someone free that they can fly, they can sail on the wind like a dove or soar like an eagle but let us not cut their wings. What did I do for Malala that was different from any other father? Nothing. I just didn’t cut her wings.”
As a leader, I have had the privilege of developing and leading women on my team across cultures and organizations. I am fulfilled when women I have led arrive at their actual potential because that is where they begin to defy barriers and create new levels of normal and achievement.
We in the West didn’t grow up or live where Malalai did but the gender gap is real and unconscious biases exist that affect women. While greater awareness exists today, it is important for leaders to ensure we create an environment for young and upcoming women leaders to thrive professionally. We need to provide every opportunity for women to explore what they are capable of through meaningful experiences and career development opportunities. Timely and specific feedback and being able to nurture a meaningful relationship that allows for free thinking and creating new possibilities can result in profound outcomes. Entrepreneurship being one of them.